Saturday, January 2, 2016

Darkly beautiful modern and medieval gothic love story

The Gargoyle by Andrew Davidson

Genre: Gothic horror, love story

A man with a sordid lifestyle is severely burned in a car accident and gruesomely disfigured. As he recovers (miraculously) in the burn unit, he meets Marianne Engel, a woman who seems to know him who has wandered away from the psych ward and tells him stories about their shared past lives. Is she delusional, or are these stories real? How does she know the things she knows about him? Her tales become easier for him to believe as time goes by and he becomes increasingly attached to and dependent on her.
This book holds so many of the keys to my interests: darkly romantic, gothic, German medieval history, monasteries, magical realism, folk and fairy tales, disturbingly deep passions, stories within a story... the author took a long time to research and write this book, and I feel like it shows in the intricacies of the layers of story. Turnoffs: the main male character's kind of a know-it-all, full of bragging machismo about all of the terrible things he's lived through and done. I've run into that a few times in other books (The Bookman stories by Dunning, for instance). It rubs me the wrong way for a little while, and then I acclimate and the irritation fades as the quality storytelling takes over. And, the story obviously leans heavily on The Inferno for parallels (or maybe it's only obvious because I read The Inferno just prior to reading this). I would have loved it as much without the Inferno allusions – it's a darkly beautiful tale all on its own, and one I'll be remembering for a long time.

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